Union Budget 2024: Startups Call for AI Investment, Skill Upgrades, EV Support

AI’s adaptive learning capabilities can democratize education, ensuring students and educators in rural areas receive unparalleled quality and support
Union Budget 2024: Startups Call for AI Investment, Skill Upgrades, EV Support

As the Union Budget 2024 approaches, the Indian startup ecosystem has set forth a series of expectations, emphasizing the need for strategic investments in technology, skill development, and sustainable practices. Key industry leaders have voiced their insights, highlighting the critical areas where government support can drive significant impact.

Boosting EV Industry

Jitendra Patil, Managing Director of the Pune-based energy-tech startup ARENQ, expressed optimism about the budget’s potential to bolster the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

“We are excited about the upcoming budget and the new FAME 3 subsidy,” Patil stated. He called for significant funds directed toward expanding EV infrastructure and incentives for battery technology research and development. “With strategic investments and solid support, we can build a cleaner, more sustainable future together,” he remarked.

Focus on AI and Education

Jairaj Bhattacharya, Co-founder and Managing Director of ConveGenius, emphasizes the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education. “As we navigate the future of education, it is imperative that our budget invests strategically in AI and cutting-edge research, especially for India 2 and India 3,” Bhattacharya stated.

He believes that AI’s adaptive learning capabilities can democratize education, ensuring students and educators in semi-urban and rural areas receive unparalleled quality and support. “By prioritizing AI and research, we can bridge educational divides, empower our youth, and prepare them to thrive in the 21st-century economy,” he added.

Enhancing Food Packaging and Manufacturing

Neetika Suryawanshi, CFO at Pakka Limited, underscored the anticipation within the food packaging and manufacturing industry for the upcoming budget.

“We anticipate a significant allocation of funds to support critical areas such as infrastructure development, technological advancements, and initiatives to address raw material price volatility,” Suryawanshi noted.

She called for a stable and supportive policy framework to achieve the targeted growth trajectory in 2024-25. Streamlining regulations, facilitating access to credit, and fostering innovation in sustainable packaging solutions are key focus areas.

Skill Development and HR Sector

Ankit Aggarwal, Founder and CEO of Unstop, highlighted the importance of talent acquisition and upskilling in the HR sector. “Addressing the immediate need for a rapidly evolving job market, there should be a substantial increase in the budget allocation for skill development and entrepreneurship, ideally by 20–25 per cent,” Aggarwal suggested.

With the digital economy’s projected contribution to India’s GDP estimated at 20 per cent by 2025, investments must be made in digital skills training. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) and equitable access to marginalized communities were also emphasized to ensure inclusive growth.

Financial Incentives and Tax Reforms

Yagnesh Sanghrajka, Founder and CFO at 100X.VC, outlined several financial reforms that could benefit startups. Key suggestions include parity in taxation of capital gains from listed and unlisted shares, discontinuation of taxing ESOPs on exercise (with tax levied on the sale of shares issued in ESOP), relaxation in regulations for outbound investment by AIFs, tax incentives for angel investors, and reduced GST rates for startups.

These measures, Sanghrajka believes, will provide a significant boost to early-stage funding and ease the financial burden on emerging businesses.

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